It’s been named one of the ten most endangered buildings in Wisconsin, and the fact that it’s still standing is amazing in itself. At 110 feet long and 30 feet wide, the Lutze Housebarn is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The barn is located near Centerville and is one of the last such structures in the United States.

A barn is a house and a barn together. Living quarters at one end and livestock living quarters at the other end. This is especially convenient in northern climates like Wisconsin where the farmer never has to venture outside to tend to livestock.

Richard Lutze’s great-grandparents built this barn in 1849 after immigrating from Saxony, Germany. They bought the land from the lighthouse keeper at Sheboygan. Richard and his wife Sarah are the fifth generation of Lutz to own the barn, and they have just passed it on to their son who is the sixth generation.

After nearly 175 years, the Lutzes needed a plan to preserve this piece of German heritage. The Centerville Colony is a non-profit group dedicated to restoring the barn while preserving the original tools and techniques. It is the traditional German architecture of the fachwerk that makes this barn unique.

Volunteer work is laborious and time-consuming. Everything must match exactly. Thus, the structure relies on itself and is virtually indestructible. Year after year, volunteers have worked on weekends to restore the barn.

They are over 30 years into the renovation and estimate there are 10 left before it is finally open for tours.

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project and considers a sunset over the “Big Island” on Lake Manson the perfect end to a day of fishing and fun in the Northwoods.